The owner of a Madison construction company at the center of a Carpenters union protest is disputing claims that he underpays his workers.
Joe Daniels, president of Joe Daniels Construction Co. Inc., said the North Central States Regional Council of Carpenters for the past year has protested at his office and near job sites and sent letters to owners of projects awarded to his company.
The letters, he said, claim Daniels’ wages and benefits are below the union-identified regional standard, which is $44.32 per hour, including benefits and contributions to state-registered apprentice training.
According to Daniels’ payroll information, the average total compensation in 2009 for his employees was $49.22 per hour including benefits.
“So they’d actually take a cut in pay if they joined the union,” Daniels said.
Carpenters union representatives did not immediately return repeated calls for comment.
Daniels said he received a letter, attributed to Carpenters union representative Scott Watson, this week stating union members will continue peaceful picketing and informing the public of the contractor’s practices.
Madison Area Technical College recently awarded Daniels an estimated $38,000 project to build a concessions stand in the college’s athletics area and an estimated $95,000 addition to the campus bookstore.
Fred Brechlin, MATC’s professional services manager of facilities, said two union members protested outside the college’s Truax campus Wednesday morning. He said he and Mike Stark, facilities director, received letters last week from the union.
“We have a long-standing relationship with Joe Daniels,” Brechlin said. “Prevailing wage rates are part of these projects, and they have to sign letters promising to pay those wages. If unions want copies of those forms, they can get that.
“I’ve personally talked to Daniels employees who said they’re paid above scale.”
According to the union letter to Daniels this week, the Carpenters union does not seek to organize or represent Daniels employees.
If the union wanted to do that, Daniels said, they have the right.
“If they want to throw stones at me, fine,” he said. “But don’t go after my customers.”
Irving Gottschalk, regional director of the National Labor Relations Board, said there are no complaints on file by or against Daniels.
The union last year scheduled a meeting with Daniels to discuss labor relations, Daniels said. He said he agreed to it, but the union backed off after he said his attorney would be present.
Daniels’ father, Joe Daniels Sr., founded the company in 1953. Daniels said the company was signatory to six unions for nearly 20 years before breaking its union ties in 1984 when the company was on the verge of bankruptcy.
“But what do they want?” Daniels said. “Do they want to see my information? I’ll show it to them. They won’t take the meeting.”